By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) – As concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus mount, many people are left wondering if there’s anything they can do.

And no, the answer is not to get your hands on a face mask.

Face masks are useful when worn by people who are already sick to prevent the spread of germs, but not very helpful for healthy people trying to avoid getting sick.

So forget the face masks and focus on the basics.

Read: Answers To Your Coronavirus Questions

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, one important step is to make sure you have everything you need at home in the event you have to shelter in place for some time. Having a contingency plan in the face of coronavirus, or any other public health threat, is always a good idea and should cause less anxiety in the long run.

So think about it – if you were told today that you had to stay in your home for the next two weeks, would you have everything you need? Food? Medications? Diapers?

If not, you might want to consider purchasing enough of these to last you for at least 14 days:

  • Non-perishable food (canned goods, frozen foods, dry goods like rice, pasta, cereal and candy)
  • Drinks (water, re-hydrating drinks like Gatorade or Pedialyte, formula, powdered milk)
  • Toiletries (toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, diapers, wipes)
  • Cleaning products (disinfectants, detergent, soap, hand sanitizers)
  • Over-the-counter medications (pain relievers, fever reducers, heartburn medicines, cough and cold remedies)
  • Prescription medications (blood pressure medications, insulin, seizure medication, antidepressants)

And if you have underlying medical conditions, keep a list of your allergies, health problems, and medications.

Read: CDC Information On Coronavirus

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

There is certainly no need to panic. Just be prepared.

For more on preparing for a pandemic, visit

Dr. Mallika Marshall


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